Media professionals demand state provide justice in murder cases of journalists
Leading journalists on Saturday stressed the need for implementing the laws on media freedom and called for the state to ensure justice to the journalists who were killed in the line of duty.
They spoke at a symposium titled ‘No More Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists’ organised by the Institute of Business Administration’s Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) in collaboration with the Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders on Saturday.
They panellists highlighted the crimes committed against reporters in the country and shared stories of the slain journalists. They agreed that influential quarters did not tolerate the freedom of press and expression in the country.
Before the panel discussion began, CEJ Director Amber Rahim Shamsi said the civil society, journalist unions and human right organisations did voice concern over the crimes against journalists but the conviction rate in those cases had been very low. The state must take measures for the protection of journalists, she added.
Journalist Munizae Jahangir said a recent example of crimes against journalists was the murder of Arshad Sharif. A number of sedition cases were lodged against him across the country, she said, adding that although a court had assured Sharif that he would not be arrested in those cases, he considered himself unsafe in Pakistan and left the country.
She said that the deep state used its minions to register baseless sedition cases against journalists. Some of such complainants were even unaware of their complaints, she remarked. “A group starts a Twitter trend against journalists at 9am and suddenly disappears at 5pm. It means that government employees is behind those trends.”
She said that the some influential quarters wanted to control the media to build a narrative that they wanted. Writing stories about civil-military relations, foreign relations and war against terror was the most difficult tasks in today’s journalism, Munizae said.
A collapsing criminal justice system, a state that is routinely accused of complicity and political and social instability meant that those who murdered journalists continued to get away scot-free, she said, calling for unconventional solutions to deal with the issue like forming a people’s tribunal.
Jos Bartman, a research coordinator for A Safer World for The Truth who joined the discussion virtually from Amsterdam, said that the FPU-led investigation found major deficiencies and flaws in the investigation of the murder of journalist Zubair Mujahid, a correspondent for Daily Jang who was shot dead while travelling on a motorcycle with a fellow journalist in Mirpurkhas in 2007.
He said the police even denied that Mujahid was killed for his journalistic work and closed the case. A documentary on his murder was also screened at the event.
Journalist Hamid Mir joined the discussion virtually and cited the example of the people’s tribunal that was held at The Hague earlier this year that investigated unsolved murder cases of journalists from around the world, including that of Mujahid.
Journalists Owais Tohid, Nazeer Laghari and Mehmal Sarfaraz in the panel along with Shamsi paid tribute to Sharif who was murdered in Kenya two months ago.
Lawyer Faisal Siddiqi, one of the panellists who recently filed a plea for a fresh investigation into Mujahid’s murder, said the formation of a judicial commission and joint investigation teams in such matters were often an eyewash.
He lamented that not a single suspect had been identified in Mujahid’s murder despite the passage of 15 years and multiple re-investigations.
French Consul General in Karachi Alexis Chahtahtinski and Sindh Information Minister Shajreel Inam Memon also attended the event.
The prime minister’s spokesperson Fahd Hussain was the chief guest at the event who acknowledged the bleak and treacherous times facing the media fraternity. But he also shared a glimmer of hope, informing those in attendance about the commission for the protection of journalists that would be notified “in a matter of days”.
The event also included a conversation of satirists Murtaza Chaudhry and Mustafa Chaudhry with journalist Asad Toor.
Source: The News